5 Stages of Market Sophistication to Help You Sell

5 Stages of Market Sophistication to Help You Sell

How many times do you see an ad for a weight loss product with its claims of “lose weight fast!” “never be hungry!” or “eat chocolate all day long and still lose weight!” and think to yourself, I’ve heard this same crap a million times.

How you react depends largely on how often you’ve heard these claims and for how long… a.k.a. the product’s MARKET LEVEL OF SOPHISTICATION.

Sophistication in this case has nothing to do with whether your customers prefer opera over thrash metal or if they know the proper table setting for a formal dinner.

Your market’s level of sophistication (LOS) refers to:

  • The number of competitors in the marketplace
  • The length of time this type of product has existed
  • Whether or not customers are jaded (as in my example above)

LOS refers to another one of the late great copywriter Eugene Schwartz’s concepts he wrote about in his book, Breakthrough Advertising. (I talked about another important marketing concept, levels of awareness, in THIS earlier post.)

It’s a concept you need to consider when you’re marketing your own product or offer. 

Why does it matter so much? 

Because it’s the difference between your potential customers hearing you… or not.

In other words, it’s a biggie. Let’s start with the first stage…


You’re the OG. Top dog.

You’ve created something completely new and different from anything currently in the marketplace. You rule the marketplace by simply being first. 

Example: Coca Cola. Regardless of all those taste tests where people preferred Pepsi over Coke, the latter was in the marketplace first. So in the real world, Pepsi will always fall behind Coke.

Being first gives you a huge advantage. It makes it easy to dominate even when others try to compete with you.

If you’re in a market where you’re not the first, instead of striving to be The Best X in your market, look for ways to differentiate yourself within that space.

SIDE NOTE: Obviously being unique doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’ll make a killing. Here’s a list of 160 products that sounded great but failed spectacularly. So make sure your product totally rocks.


Good morning. You have competition.

No more sitting back soaking up all the accolades. Other companies are beginning to do the same thing / create a similar product as yours. Your direct claim is no longer enough to get your market’s attention. You’re not the only game in town.

You need to step up… add reasons why your product is better than the others.

You’ll need to talk about the ways you’re the best choice. 

How does your product work that makes the others fall short?

Think functionality. 

For example, if your competition has a lengthy and/or complicated process to use their offer, talk about the one-step, easy start-up process of yours. 

If your competition claims to get results in a week, can your product do the same in three days?

How else can you make your product bigger, faster, longer lasting or stronger than everyone else’s?


Lots of people have entered the building.

The market has seen it all and is suspicious of claims. You’ll need to talk more about features, not claims. 

Highlight any unique processes you use to create your product, for example. For example, in the cosmetics world, “cruelty-free” has become a big feature I look for when buying makeup. 

It has little to do with the product itself but everything to do with the process of not using animals for its testing. I like that and many other customers like me do, too.

Does your brand do something else beneficial that grabs the reader’s attention? The brand TOMS, for example, is renowned for giving back to the community and the world. 


It’s a jungle in here.

At this stage, your market has caught up. No one can hear you above the noise. 

It’s time to pull out the big guns. 

Switch up your marketing. 

Conduct side-by-side comparisons of your products versus your competitor’s products. 

Highlight features your products have that your competition does not… or one your customer isn’t aware of.

Play up your “secret sauce.” Be sure to keep it believable or your market will see right through you.


You’ve reached critical mass.

Your market is saturated. Customers know a ton about the industry already. 

Consider, for example, the weight-loss market. Every claim echoes every other one, with only slight differences. It’s easy for people to ignore new products in this market. 

At this point, it’s about tapping into your customer’s beliefs. Their emotions.

These are the companies that spend millions on the type of ads you see during the Super Bowl.

Using my own business as an example, my market’s level of sophistication is at STAGE FOUR. Most people know what a copywriter does.

So I differentiate myself as a conversion copywriter. I use analytics and data to create copy, not guesswork. In that way, my focus is more on the sales end than the writing end, versus that of a traditional copywriter. 

(Want to know more? Check out my Work With Me Page for more info or contact me at Linda@LindaMeloneWrites.com.)

Other posts you may enjoy:

3 Email Marketing Myths that Leave Money on the Table

Use This Copywriting Formula for Everything You Write

Stages Of Awareness: How to Reach Your Customers Where They Are Right Now

Do YOU know your market level of sophistication? How will you reach them?

Write away!


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